The hypervisor is the new OS

I’ve been using vmware for years now. It’s a fantastic, amazing, wonderful product. I haven’t really used virtual PC or Xen, but I will.

We’re going to see many surprising things happening in the virtual world. One of them is that more and more local applications will be delivered as appliances. Instead of running apache or mysql on a server, your server will run multiple virtual machines, one running apache, another running mysql.

Hardware support for virtualisation is going to change modern computing much like the 386, with its hardware support for multiple processes, changed things. It gave rise to the modern OS and its obsession with processes.

Well, the hypervisor is the new OS.

There’s a trend afoot to centralise applications at the moment. Soon, you’ll be able to access almost all your computing through a browser. But we’ve been here before: we’ve already seen centralised computing. And, y’know what? People didn’t like it. People liked the independence of the microcomputer.

I predict that the virtual machine will give us a new wave of decentralisation. The current wave has legs yet, but the next wave will be in the opposite direction.

I mean, think about it: when you centralise something, you expose it to the vagaries of brutal organisations with guns: governments and big corporations. Big organisations are going to get more and more anachronistic over the next hundred years or so. The last thing we’ll want is centralised places where they can exert influence. Hence, massive decentralisation. Thanks to virtual machines, though, we’ll be able to decentralise what used to be centralised apps.


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